17 August 2023
This recent publication from Strathwood flew under our radar, until a review copy landed on our desk...
A coffee table book like no other. I'm not spewing vitriol here – of the many books to have landed for review at WOR HQ, most (read, the best) of which have trickled down into the pages of BRM over the years, this book, is seemingly 'top of the crop'.
In fact, the term, 'mega rare' doesn't quite do it justice. It combines high quality imagery (which in itself is rare for the period, given the budget equipment many young photographers were using), interesting subject matter, printed on high-quality stock.
The large format suits the imagery and story well. Two photographers chasing the last of Britain's steam locomotives by any format of transport at their disposal – a race against time to capture what was left of an era soon to end. Its weight at almost 7kg results in this being less of a book to pick up from a side table and read on the lap, more something to be read on a table.
Photography is brought to life with informative captions, but it's the number of images of the crew and depot staff that impresses – their expressions telling the story of 'just another day on the 'plate' – a contrast to the vivid enthusiasm shown by the spotters! For modelling inspiration, the crews' attire throughout the book is of great value. So too are images taken on the 'plate.
From the high-contrast shots of locomotives working 'Shap', to low-lit pictures taken at Crewe, the sun glistening on the rail tops creating very atmospheric imagery.
I've previously given publications whose imagery can be found easily online some 'stick'. This book is at opposites – the images aren't online, and being printed so large, they encourage the reader to study them more, revealing every minutia of detail.
Collating this material has been no simple task, and sadly, one of the author's has passed before its publication has become reality. As you'd expect for such a large format quality publication, this is reflected in its price. Worth it? Yes – this one's a keeper.